Summer is arriving and it's time to plan a trip! Where will you go this summer? Beach, camping, water park, or a visit to family? Vacations are important. The mind does need a change every few months - change of environment and a rest from day-to-day activities. Why do we instantly feel better on vacation? Because the mind tunes in to the present moment. When we are fully in the present moment, not distracted with our usual thoughts of daily life, we feel a sense of calmness that translates into bliss. Without a break, the mind starts to get habituated to the same thing day in and day out, and loses its ability to be in the present. When you find yourself constantly telling your mind to tune in when it wants to tune out... a vacation is what you may need.
Most vacations are centered around having fun. We book trips to the white-sand Caribbean, sight-seeing in Europe, and family visits to India. This equates to fun, relaxation and a much-needed mental break.
But there is one kind of vacation that few of us take and all of us need. That is a trip for the soul. We can easily know when our body or mind needs a break. Too much running around or too much stress - time to take a trip. But when do you listen to your soul? The soul needs a holiday, too.
A soul vacation is one that pleases your inner most self, compared to one that feeds the senses. You know when the soul is pleased when you feel inner peace and a deep sense of contentment. For example, when you experience the beauty and tranquility of untouched nature, the mind becomes still and you feel joy. Why? Because the soul can relate to this kind of environment - the nature of soul is silence and peace, and so it enjoys the same. Thus meditation and silence retreats, journey to spiritual places, and being alone in nature are good ways to feed the soul what it craves.
Perhaps the best soul trip is where there is several days of satsang. Because the nature of soul is also love and purity, you nourish the soul when you are surrounded by the same. Your listening to spiritual discourse is highly enriching for your inner self, and helps you reconnect with your true inner being.
Many of us do pay attention to our physical bodies - we know when we need rest. Some of us also pay attention to our minds - we feel when stress has taken a toll. But how many of us pay attention to our soul? Can you sense when you're not at peace? Do you do something about it? You see, if the soul is not fed, no matter what vacations we take, we will end up with the same feeling of disharmony and emptiness.
If you feed your soul every day with spiritual practice, a soul vacation may not be so necessary. But if you are busy with work and family as many of us are, and sadhana has not made it to your to-do list, then make it a point to take a soul trip at least once or twice a year. You'll be amazed at the long-lasting affect it will have on you.
Our Chinmaya Mission offers so many opportunities for us to nourish our inner selves. These are a blessing and a rare opportunity. As much as possible, do not miss these golden opportunities for a true soul vacation. I can bet you that a trip to Mahasamadhi camp or a weekend retreat with a great master will outshine any Cancun all-inclusive.
Last year was our family's first trip to Mahasamadhi camp in Dallas, Texas. At first, I thought that five/six days was a long time and I wasn't sure how my kids would handle it. But it turned out to be such a wonderful experience -- well beyond what any typical vacation could offer us. And it was hard to get the kids to leave! We've made it our family tradition to attend this camp every year.
This summer, go ahead and plan some fun. You deserve it. But don't forget to feed your soul. It too needs a break.
For more ideas on where to go for soul vacations, email me.
Peace and blessings,